Interview with Christine Gross Jundt (CJ)
Conducted by Bob Dambach (BD)
18 August 2001, Balta, ND
Transcribed by Beth Freeman
Editing and proofreading by Peter Eberle and Reverend Marvin Hartmann
Prairie Public Collection
BD: Christine, why don’t you tell me your
CJ: Christine Gross Jundt.
BD: And where do you live, Christine?
CJ: I live in [Erfish A3], North Dakota.
BD: And where were you born?
CJ: I was born in the family farm home, ten miles
south of Rugby.
BD: And how big of family did you have?
CJ: I had three brothers and two sisters.
BD: And where did your mom and dad come from?
CJ: My mother came from Alsace and my dad from Mannheim.
BD: And where were they located?
CJ: They’re located in the north of Orrin,
in the sand hills, and my mother didn’t like the sandstorms,
so Dad looked for a place and found the farm he liked ten miles
south of town.
BD: And where were your mom and dad born? What country
were your mom and dad born in?
CJ: In Russia.
BD: And do you know when they got married?
CJ: My mother was twelve when they came over, my
dad was eighteen.
BD: So where did they meet?
CJ: They met in the Napoleon area.
BD: So are both of the families from the Napoleon
BD: How did they get way up here?
CJ: Well, it was getting a little crowded down there
and they knew people that had settled here and said it was so
beautiful. So they decided to come up. My mother’s parents
had come up here, so they were all together.
BD: Was the land better up here or worse up here?
CJ: It was worse. It moved, every breeze there was.
Sand flew, but it was so beautiful. It was all flowers and berries
BD: What types of crops were used? What did your
dad plant on the farm?
CJ: On the farm in the Orrin community? Mostly feed
for the sheep. They had a lot of sheep and a few cattle, and it
was mostly feed.
BD: So he was more of a rancher than a farmer?
BD: Now do you know, when they came from Russia,
do you know in Russia, what his father would have done? Was his
father a farmer?
CJ: His father was a farmer.
BD: And on your mother’s side?
CJ: Farmers, too.
BD: Did they ever talk about why they came to the
CJ: Well, it was getting so crowded there and they
didn’t want their boys all to go and fight.
BD: And do you think your mom and dad were happy
that they moved to the US?
CJ: Well not for a while. They missed home a lot.
I used to ask my dad, “Why didn’t a lot of people
go back?” And he said nobody had enough money to go back.
BD: Now you were telling me some nice stories earlier
about visiting the Gross families.
CJ: Well, first we’d stop at Kintyre where
my mother’s family lived. And they had a sod house, and
it was so much fun to sit on the windowsills because they were
big enough for chairs.
BD: And how long would it take to get there from
CJ: Well, I remember going down with the horse and
buggy. We’d start about five o’clock in the morning,
and we’d usually be at Grandpa’s for supper.
BD: And then a little bit later, you had another
way to get to Grandpa’s, didn’t you?
CJ: Yes. I think it was a 1914 Chevy my dad bought.
And we were so happy going down. And when Grandpa Gross saw us,
he was very upset. “How dare you buy such a dangerous thing?
Don’t risk your children’s lives by putting them in
that and starting for home. Take my horse and buggy, I’ll
get it back someday.” And then, “No, we’ll make
it all right, Grandpa, with the car.” And he said, “They
gave me a ride, and I couldn’t even count the fenceposts,
it went too fast.” And later, when I asked my dad, “How
fast did you drive when Grandpa was so scared?” He said,
“Well, the roads were bad, I couldn’t go wide open.
Wide open, I could have made 28.”
BD: And how were the roads on the way down? What
kind of roads were there?
CJ: It was just trails. And after a few years, people
start fencing and having cattle. And sometimes we got to go along
just to open the fence gates, to close them again.
BD: Then this was a big trip for you, as a child.
CJ: It made our summer. We always knew whose turn
it was to go along.
BD: So you would take turns as children?
CJ: Yah. Usually two of us could go.
BD: Once again, how many children were there in
your family? Your mom and dad, how many children did they have?
CJ: I had three brothers and two sisters. They’ve
all passed away.
BD: But at that time, there were six of you, there
were more wanting to go in the car, right?
CJ: Yeah, well, the two oldest usually got to go
by themselves later. And the others went.
BD: Did the kids ever get to drive the car?
CJ: Oh yeah, the oldest boy. He drove right away
when Dad bought the car. He must have been about 12 or so.
BD: Was it a while before you used anything but
horses on the farm, on the ranch?
CJ: Yeah, it was quite a while.
BD: Were still using horses when you left the home?
CJ: Yes, there were still mostly horses. A few people
started having tractors.
BD: Now, we are in the Balta church area. This is
the church that you usually went to as a child.
CJ: Yes, well, I remember when I was very little
we went to the country church. Then I remember when this church
was built. My dad and the boys were down working, and it wasn’t
enough help, so my dad hired a hired man to help also. And my
mother took all the kettles down. Sometimes we didn’t know
if we could cook a good meal at home or not because everything
was down here.
BD: How long did it take to build the church then?
CJ: Well it seems to me they just worked all summer.
BD: And was it mostly people of the parish then?
CJ: They had the horses on the scraper, that’s
the way they dug the basement.
BD: What’s your favorite part of this church?
Was there something, that, when you walked in, you would look
CJ: Well, yeah, the windows. The windows fascinate
me every time I come down.
BD: One of the windows is very special to your family,
CJ: Yes. This is my folks’ window, you know,
people could buy, get their name on the window. The priest we
had here insisted that the folks take one with St. Clements on
BD: And how come they insisted on that window for
CJ: Because my dad’s name was Clements.
BD: Do you have any idea of how much they would
have paid for that window?
CJ: No, I often wish I knew. But somebody is saying
it’s costing much more now to get them repaired then it
did when they were new.
BD: Now, you started to tell me a story - you used
to be a choir girl up here, didn’t you?
CJ: Well, we came up here, pretended we were singing,
I guess, and the organist was kind of a joker. And he would tear
out the pages in the back of the songbooks, and make spitballs.
And he gave then to us to see who could hit the wellhead. That
went on during mass.
BD: So you must have attended lots of masses here
in your time.
CJ: Oh yeah.
BD: And were you married in this church?
BD: And how large of a family did you have?
CJ: Two boys.
BD: Would they have been baptized in this church?
CJ: No, one was born in Milwaukee and was baptized
there. And then the other one, the two boys are nine years apart,
so when the youngest one came, we were farming by Silva. And he
was baptized here.
BD: So why don’t you tell me a little bit
about growing up in this area? What was it like for you as a child,
CJ: It was just a lot of fun. A lot of hard work
and a lot of fun. My folks were very, very generous. The more
I think of it now, the more I think, why did they let us do that,
why did they let us do that? I had three older brothers. And especially
the oldest brother, he would say, “Work real good this week.
Be nice to Ma, then you see if you can wiggle a new dress out
of her, then I’ll take you along to the dance.” So,
like when we were sixteen, Dad gave us each a checkbook. And he
said, “Use it sparingly, use it wisely. Abuse it, and you
lose it.” But the only one that ever lost it was my baby
sister, she was a little spoiled.
BD: The youngest one always is, aren’t they?
CJ: Yah, yah. And she had ruptured appendix when
she was four, and those days it was a miracle when they saved
them. So Dad helped spoil her real good.
BD: Where did you go to school?
CJ: We had a country school a mile west of our home.
BD: And what grade would you have gotten to?
CJ: I went to the country school through the eighth
grade. Then I went St. James Academy for three semesters.
BD: And where is that?
CJ: Grand Forks.
BD: What happened after that? What did you do after
school was done?
CJ: I just helped on the farm. My mother had a very
severe surgery and she ruptured, and so she needed the help. So
I pretend that I didn’t want to go to school and I stayed
home to help - the doctor said, “Your mother will live if
she has complete peace of mind. So what could I do? I quit school.
BD: Do you ever have any regret about that?
CJ: Not really. I wanted typing so badly and my
folks would have bought me a typewriter just like that if I had
told them, but I thought, they have enough to worry about, you
know. So I never got my typewriter.
BD: Do you mind telling me, if I ask you, what year
were you born in?
BD: So you’ve seen a lot of things in your
lifetime, haven’t you?
BD: And we were talking earlier about family. Why
don’t you tell me about your dad? Tell me what your memories
were of your dad. What kind of man he was.
CJ: Well, he was kinda - if he wanted help, he wanted
help right now. But if you showed him that you were willing to
help him, he would surprise you too, like he would probably say,
“I’m going to Harvey, you want to go along?”
Get to Harvey, he’d say, “Now, you buy anything you
want. Buy the nicest dress you can find.” He’d surprise
us that way. And he could whistle. He could put two fingers like
that, he could whistle so they could hear it a half mile away.
BD: And was Harvey where you would have gone to
CJ: Yeah. A lot of times we did. We went to Rugby,
but he had friends at Harvey, so we went there often.
BD: Harvey and Rugby would have been fairly prosperous
communities with lots of shops and stores?
CJ: Yes, very nice.
BD: Was there a store you would especially look
forward to going to?
BD: Which one was that?
CJ: Jacobson’s store here in town.
BD: Why was that special?
CJ: Well, the people were exceptionally nice, and
my mother made dress chickens for them and made pickles for them
and all kinds of things, so they were friends. And those days
a lot of times the teachers or somebody would buy an expensive
dress. And payments, pretty soon they’d leave the community
and never finish paying for that dress. And then Mr. Jacobson
would say, “Come up, I’ve got something you’ll
like,” and he’d sell us that dress for what was left
to pay on it. So that was a fun thing.
BD: Tell me a little about your mom. What kind of
woman was your mom?
CJ: Well, I remember when we were fighting around
the yard playing ball, and you know, somebody didn’t do
right, hollering at each other, and she’d come out of the
house, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas, lean your ear this way,”
cause that was in July, so we all laughed and we forgot that we
were fighting. Every time we would get a magazine, she would say,
“Oh see if there’s something real nice in there; we
might surprise the boys for supper.” She always wanted something
good for the boys.
BD: Was she a good cook?
CJ: Yah, very good. She was known around the community
as a good cook.
BD: What would be her special dish to make for the
CJ: Dad’s favorite was in the spring: chicken,
cabbage, and potatoes, all in one kettle. Oh, he loved that.
BD: Did you realize when you were growing up that
you were part of a German-Russian community? Was that ever something
you talked about?
CJ: Not really. We had a community. Our closest
neighbors were Norwegian. My mother couldn’t talk Norwegian
and those women couldn’t talk German, but they could get
together and have the biggest conversation. They would take a
catalogue and order school clothes for their girls and for my
sister and me. They got along real good. We had a nice house,
and we made ice cream all summer long. Then one of the neighbor
ladies would call, “Can we come down tonight?” “Yeah.”
“Ok, I’ll bring the cake.” She’d bring
a big angel food cake, and we would make ice cream, and that was
BD: Did your mom and dad have much schooling at
all? Did they go to school in Russia?
CJ: They went to school, they could read and write.
I don’t know how many years they went to school.
BD: Did they pick up English very soon after they
got here? Or did they speak German for a long time?
CJ: No, yeah, my dad was real good on the English.
He helped many people become citizens and all that. And my mother,
she learned to talk it, but she did not learn to write it.
BD: But did they get English language newspapers?
CJ: Yeah, yeah. They got a German paper, the [Gottsenschicle
B169]. And they got all English magazines and papers.
BD: You mentioned the catalogues, they were probably
CJ: Yeah. We had a threshing machine. And boys would
come; some boys from Oklahoma City came four different summers,
and a lot of them, you know, they just got to be family, and there
was one man Dad hired, maybe before I was born. It must have been.
And he came 21 different summers to work for us, and then my Dad
didn’t need help anymore, he moved to town, so he came two
more summers and stayed with my oldest brother. And he was originally
from Austria, and he used to say, “When Frank come no more,
then you pray for Frank, because then Frank be dead.” And
when my mother died - this is funny - she died in March, and she
knew she was dying, she told me in November, she told me, “I’m
going to die, I think in March, and then I want you to take over”
and then she told me about the garden and everything. And my brother
had leakage of the heart, and we didn’t know it, doctor’s
couldn’t find it for so long, so he was really sick. And
this man that came all these years, he always came directly on
the train, and then he walked out. And my brother was sick in
bed. And I said, “Walter, now you stay in bed. Don’t
get up and fall. I’m going to run up the highway and help
Frank. Frank is coming walking. And he said, “No, it’s
just April. Frank always comes the first week in May.” I
said, “I don’t care, but this is, I can tell how he
walks, it’s Frank.” So I ran up and he sat up his
suitcase and sat on it. Started to have a - run tears down his
eyes, he said, “I had to come home, I had to come home,
somebody tell me all the time, ‘Go home, Father needs you’
and they say something about Mother and Walter, but I don’t
understand what.” I said, “Frank, Mother is gone and
Walter is very seriously sick.” And he just cried and cried.
And I said, “Come on, we must go home. We mustn’t
cry anymore, we go home and have lunch.” Then when he saw
my dad he cried again. Now how did he know? I think about that
so much. How did Frank know?
BD: And how old was your mom when she died?
CJ: She was only 47. My dad was almost 94 when he
BD: Did your Dad remarry?
CJ: Yes, he remarried, and it didn’t work
out. She was a very, very mean lady and we all thought he was
very happy when he got it annulled.
BD: How old were you when your dad remarried then,
a teenager or older?
BD: So you had been taking care of the family for
a while, in your mom’s position.
CJ: Yeah, yeah.
BD: Now when did you get married?
CJ: I got married when I was what, 23, 24. The World’s
Fair. We went to the World’s Fair, stayed almost a year.
BD: How did you meet your husband?
CJ: We knew each other. After the church closed,
they went to this church, and we went to the same parties and
BD: So he was from this area. What was his name?
CJ: Tom. Tom Jundt.
BD: So what made you go to the World’s Fair?
CJ: He had gone down with another boy during the
summer, and he said “It was too short. I didn’t get
to see half of what, and I’m sure you’d enjoy what
there is to see, too.” So we went.
BD: Did you get married at the World’s Fair?
CJ: No, we got married here.
BD: And then went to the World’s Fair.
BD: How come you stayed for a year?
CJ: Well, he got a job working for A.O. Smith. They
made car bodies and trailers and things. But he couldn’t
get the little pigs and the little chickens out of his mind. And
he kept talking, talking, and I says, “Tom, you want to
go home, don’t you?” And he said, “Oh, I want
to go home. All my bones hurt I want to go home so bad.”
So we said, ok, let’s go.
BD: And then where did you get your first house
when you came back, where did you live?
CJ: We stayed with his folks for a little while,
then we bought a farm - we leased a year. And my son is sweating
it out on the farm now.
BD: Now where was the World’s Fair?
BD: That must have been very different for you to
go to Chicago for a year.
CJ: Oh, was it ever different, yeah.
BD: Tell me a couple of the things that surprised
you the most about Chicago.
CJ: Well, I don’t know. The streetcars were
very fascinating. And the apartments. We rented a two-room apartment
for seven dollars a month. And then we had to live there I think
two months until bigger apartments came empty. Then we got to
move up on third floor, bigger apartment that was twelve dollars
a month, and we had a grocery store right across the street.
BD: And how much money would your husband have made,
working in a week?
CJ: I don’t have an idea - I just don’t
remember. It was enough that we didn’t have to scrunch.
BD: So how did you feel after the year? Were you
ready to come back?
CJ: Yeah. You know, it was the start of the Depression.
You saw so many old men sit there, one maybe had a shoe on one
foot and an overshoe on the other foot and one was barefoot, and….
You know, people were just so poor that you wanted to cry.
BD: Things were better back here when you came back.
CJ: Yeah. On the farm you always had something to
BD: So when you and your husband were farming, what
kind of crops would you raise?
CJ: Wheat. Wheat and barley and oats. We had a few
BD: So more of a farm then what your dad ran.
CJ: Yeah. Spent every cent we had on a down payment
on the farm. And lost - the first crop was beautiful. Fifteen
minutes after he started with the binder, we got completely wiped
BD: What happened?
CJ: Hail. The fields looked like they were just
plowed. The garden was gone, everything that we had. Five cows,
and about 50 chickens and they pulled us through.
BD: Was it sad?
CJ: Oh boy.
BD: Well, you must have rebounded after that.
CJ: Yeah, we had a few nice crops later. We were
very happy on the farm. And he got so he couldn’t handle
the work. He wasn’t feeling well at all. And it took the
doctors about 15 years before they really found a - he used to
say, “I don’t have a headache, I have a sore inside
of my head. I can feel it, it’s in one place!” And
still they just couldn’t find it. And then this one doctor
we had here said, “I want you to go to Fargo, and ask for
a certain doctor. He’s my friend, and he’s good.”
Well he said, “I just can’t help him.” I said,
“You’ve got to help him!” “Ok, I’ll
try again.” So he worked on him and worked on him, he had
an instrument looked like a fountain pen. And he said, “You
can go.” And he said, “I want the doctors to take
an x-ray of my head. Can’t you do that? Doctors get mad
at me up home when I suggest it.” He said, “We can
do it, but it won’t show anything. You go home, and we’ll
study, and if we find anything, we’ll call you back.”
So what time we got home, they had already called the doctor here,
and said, “We found it. It’s a very serious brain
tumor.” And so he wanted me to talk to this doctor, and
I said, “Will you do surgery for Tom?” And he said,
“I will, with help, but there’s a man at Rochester
that’s better then I am.” So I said to Tom, “We’re
going to Rochester.” He said, “We’re going next
month maybe.” I said, “We’re going tomorrow.”
So I just wouldn’t give in. So ok, we went along down there,
and they said, “You have this very serious brain tumor,
we have done five of them here, the first two were on dead people,
the second one woke up blind, the third one woke up paralyzed,
and that’s what we have to offer you.” So he said,
“What if I don’t take the surgery?” They said,
“Then you’ll have about three months of horrible suffering.”
He said, “Well, that doesn’t give me much to lose,
go ahead and operate.” And he came out of it pretty good,
gave him 22 years, and I mean, he wasn’t bedridden or anything,
he enjoyed those 22 years.
BD: Did he continue on the farm then?
CJ: We farmed with hired help. The youngest boy
was home yet, but he was not strong enough to do some of the heavy
work yet, so he went to Fargo where his older brother was working,
and he worked there. We hired a man; he worked for us three different
BD: So both of the boys pretty much moved into larger
CJ: Yeah. The oldest son is living in Lincoln, Nebraska
right now. He’s a retired government meat grader. The youngest
one is on the farm - but he’s hurting. They’re working
so hard. His wife, too, she’s a real farm woman. And now
they’re losing their fifth crop. They had an adjuster look
at the wheat, and he said it’s seventy percent gone with
this disease the wheat gets. So I don’t know. He said, “Mom,
this year I’m going to walk.”
BD: In the ninety years you’ve been alive,
what are the biggest changes you have seen in the family lifestyle
over the years. How is it different from when you were a girl?
CJ: Well, it’s mostly the children that have
changed, you know. They’re all computerized.
BD: Do you think the families have changed since
you were a girl? The way families treat each other?
CJ: Oh yeah, yeah, a lot, yeah.
BD: Now you were saying you took over when your
mom was sick, doing a lot of the chores and household duties.
You said your mom was a good cook, were you a good cook too?
CJ: Well, I did all right. I cooked a little for
our school for 22 years.
BD: What type of things would you bake? What dishes
would you make for the school?
CJ: Oh, we’d have chili; we had beef stew,
and whatever children like. We’d ask them a lot of times,
“What would like us to cook this week?” And they were
all very nice.
BD: Did you ever make any German specialties for
CJ: No, not really.
BD: How about at home, for your children?
CJ: I tried them on it, but they weren’t much.
My dad did not want any of these [kasien flynn B327] stuff. When
my mother, I’d say, “Mother, you know, my aunt had
this and had that, could you make it?” She said, “I
could, but Dad would be so unhappy.” He worked as a young
boy for some people, for four years he was the number one hired
man because he stayed so long, he got forty dollars a year. They
were vegetarians. He said he remembers he had got meat twice,
and that’s when he had shot a rabbit. So he wanted meat
and eggs and potatoes on the table.
BD: When you went to visit your in-laws, though,
the Gross’s, they probably served German-Russian food, didn’t
CJ: A little, yeah. Yeah. Now and then. It was always
BD: What’s it like, growing up and living
in a small farming community? What are the good things about it?
CJ: Well, everybody’s friendly. You know each
other and you help each other. The neighbor kids figure we’re
making ice cream, they manage to come at noon-time. I know one
time one of the boys came up, they lived about a mile, and my
mother said, “Oh, you hit a pretty good day, we got spring
chicken today! And ice cream.” And he says, “Yeah,
well, you always have ice cream. I’ll stay for dinner.”
Well then his brother came to tell him to go home. Well, he stayed.
Then the father came. Then my mother just winked to Dad, and she
said, “Oh, let the boys have a little time off. They’ll
enjoy this meal. Come sit down and eat with them.” So we
BD: What were some bad things about growing up on
CJ: Well sometimes the work got pretty tough. I
know one time my brothers were out threshing and it was going
to freeze and the corn wasn’t cut. Dad said, “I’m
going to cut the corn and you girls are going to have to shuck
it.” And well, you know, it’s kind of hard work. My
little sister, she was only two years younger then I, she helped
put up about two or three shocks and she says, “Huh. I’m
not a hired man.” And she walked home, and that was it.
So I shocked and shocked, and when Dad was through cutting he
helped me finish it. And a week or two later he said, “I’m
going to Harvey, I’d like for you to go along.” [Little
sister] “Can I go?” He said, “No, I don’t
know you. You weren’t here when I needed help so bad.”
So I got to go to Harvey, and I got to pick out the dress I liked.
BD: I was wondering, when you were growing up, did
you ever listen to radio at all at home?
CJ: I remember when my brother bought the first
radio. Little radio. We all sat up all night listening to the
songs. We were so happy.
BD: What were some of your favorite songs you listened
to on radio? Did you have favorite shows?
CJ: There were so many, I wouldn’t know.
BD: Did you listen to any of the old soap operas?
Did they have any of the continuing shows that you would tune
in certain nights and listen to it?
CJ: I don’t know. It was just music, and we
just were so happy to have the thing.
BD: Now you mentioned earlier about getting a new
dress and going to a dance with you brother. What would dances
CJ: Well, we had the two-step and the polka. I danced
polka once and that was enough. We had the waltzes, and the square
BD: Where would the dances be held?
CJ: Well, the Thunder Park. Its building is still
standing here in Balta. And the dance hall was upstairs. Every
time we went, my dad would say, “Well, when I hear it collapse,
I’ll come and look for you.” But it was fun.
BD: And would the dances be on a Saturday night?
When would they be held?
CJ: No, not on Saturday nights, as a rule not. Friday
nights I think were more common. And then there was the Fireman’s
Dance, and the New Year’s Dance, and we had a lot of house
BD: What’s a house party?
CJ: Well, we’d have a party at our house.
Then the next week maybe the neighbors would have a party and
then the other neighbors. And whoever would have the dance there
would serve a nice lunch. Sometimes we got to have it at the schoolhouse.
BD: Now back to the dances. Would there be a band
playing or records?
CJ: Oh, somebody would play the violin or somebody
the accordion or sometimes it was just the record player.
BD: But everybody had fun there?
CJ: Everybody had fun.
BD: Now we’re sitting here doing the interview
in church. Would you say your family was religious?
CJ: Yes, yes, quite religious, uh-huh.
BD: Do you think that was normal for people living
in the community?
CJ: Yes. When it was a holy day or something, church
came first. Go to church first, and then, if it was important,
you could work in the afternoon.
BD: So you went to church every Sunday?
CJ: Oh you bet. I remember going with the horse
and sleigh when it was real cold and snowy.
BD: How do you feel when you see this church nowadays?
CJ: Oh, I just love it. When I walk into this church,
I just feel so warm. Our church in Rugby is pretty, but it’s
cold. It’s not friendly.
BD: Now does this one bring back memories of your
CJ: Right, right.
BD: Did you get to come here for mass often?
CJ: No, not often. I can remember when I had long
hair, and my mom wasn’t feeling good and my dad braided
my hair. And he braided it pretty stiff. And I would sit in church
and the girls would laugh, and then the priest would scold those
girls. He didn’t know I was the leader.
BD: Did you get to take lessons for church, like
for confirmation or Sunday school?
CJ: Mm-hmm, yeah. Not after church. In the summer,
after school was out, maybe two weeks we would come to Balta for
BD: Who would teach those lessons?
CJ: Sometimes it was the priest; mostly it was a
BD: And were there sisters in the parish here?
CJ: No, they’d come from Fargo or wherever.
BD: Now was there a Catholic school here, at all,
or just the public school?
CJ: Just the public school. Later in years there
were sisters teaching in the public school here.
BD: What does it mean for you to be of Russian-German
CJ: Why, I don’t know. I feel real good about
BD: Do you know much about the groups, about the
history of the Germans from Russia?
CJ: My grandfather lived with us, and he told us
a lot of good things about Russia.
BD: What were some of the good things he’d
tell you about Russia?
CJ: Oh, about the fruit trees. How he and his friends
would go and steal fruit off the neighbors’ trees. They
had more fruit then they could use at home, but it wasn’t
fun to pick that, it was more fun to steal the neighbors.
BD: Did he ever talk about life in the villages
in Russia? Did you have a picture in your head as a young girl
of what it would look like over in Russia?
CJ: Oh yeah. My dad talked about it, too. He could
visit with so-and-so lived here, and so-and-so lived three houses
over, and he could remember all that.
BD: Did they every talk about when the house was
CJ: Mm-hmm. Yeah, they would all live together,
then they went to the field. Each one didn’t live by his
BD: Would they have had like cows?
CJ: Yeah, and it was usually one big building. The
cows in one end, and the people in the other end.
BD: I guess one thing people talk about when they
are over there visiting and they saw a vineyard, they were talking
CJ: Mm-hmm, yeah. They talked about how good the
BD: Would they have made wine over there, do you
CJ: Yes, lots of wine.
BD: When people would gather at your house, would
they sit around and play cards or anything like that? What types
of card games did they play?
CJ: Whist, and pinochle, and go fish. They played
a lot of games.
BD: Did they teach you the card games?
CJ: Yeah, I play a little. My husband didn’t
care to play cards; he had too much weeding to do.
BD: You know, I was going to ask you and I forgot.
One of your sons was born in Milwaukee. What were you doing in
CJ: Well, we went down to the World’s Fair,
and we had friends in Milwaukee. So after we spent all our money
at the fair, we went back up to Milwaukee and he got a job there.
BD: So this was your first year of marriage, then,
very early in your life.
CJ: Yeah, yeah, we had to borrow some children.
He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have no family.
So we borrowed two children from the friends, the inspectors came,
and “Oh, yeah, you have two children now, yeah, you need
a job.” And so he got a job.
BD: Did you sing in the choir, did you sing ever?
CJ: No. Just went up for the spitballs.
BD: What I’d like to do is for us to walk
downstairs, and then for you to point out the windowthat your
dad bought for the church, and then maybe tell up the story about
the priest again, how he asked you to buy a window.